Strong Money Australia is a blog about how to reach Financial Independence and Retire Early in Australia.
Why? So you can start living life on your own terms!
I’ll show you how to build financial strength, by learning to save more while still enjoying a great life.
And I break down the complex world of investing into simple lessons which you can use to create passive income, allowing you to retire early and move on to new adventures.
Sound good? Then hit subscribe below and join the Financial Independence movement!
You might be surprised to know that you can actually reach Financial Independence in Australia in 10 years or less. No,that’s not a typo! It all depends on your savings rate.
While this may sound too good to be true, it’s for real. In fact, I’m writing this blog because I was able to leave work at the age of 28.
Throughout these pages, I share exactly what I’ve learned on my journey and the steps taken to reach Financial Independence in Australia at such a young age. Not only that, but I describe what I’d do differently starting from scratch today!
Many readers are already well on their way to Financial Independence. Some have achieved it themselves. If you want to put yourself in a Strong Money position too, then stick around – you’re in the right place! Read on to learn more about me and my personal journey…
My Journey to Financial Independence
Living in Perth at age 19, I became disillusioned with work. I looked around and noticed many people didn’t seem happy.
Working every week just to pay bills, with no end in sight. So I quickly decided that’s not how I want to live. There must be another way!
It then became obvious, the only way to escape this treadmill was to become wealthy. And the best way to achieve that was investing.
Like many people, I was uncomfortable with shares, due to the seemingly crazy share price movements. So, property investing was the natural choice.
After realising I had to do something to change my future, I built a pot of savings by age 20. I lived in a share house, worked overtime regularly, but still enjoyed myself.
Saving and Investing
Soon after, I met my partner and moved in with her. I kept living simply and saved a good portion of my wage. By age 23, I’d purchased two properties with my savings.
That same year, my partner also purchased a property with her savings. Luckily, she also bought into the idea of financial independence.
We both earned decent wages – around $75,000 on average, before tax. Importantly, we managed to contain our living expenses at $45,000 per year on average, where our spending still sits today.
This dual income is around $115,000 after tax, meaning we were saving $70,000 per year. If you plug that into a compound interest calculator, with a return of 7% per annum, in 10 years you’ll have just under $1 million.
Saving that much probably sounds crazy to you. But it’s really quite simple.
Our strategy? Simply don’t buy stuff we don’t need. And in a wealthy and beautiful country like Australia, that turns out to be a lot of stuff!
Basically, it’s about being efficient. More home cooking, less restaurants. More local holidays, less international. More homemade lattes, less café trips.
We also purchased a weights setup, allowing us to workout from home, saving time, avoiding gym memberships and unnecessary driving.
In short, we found a way to optimise each category of spending to get the most benefit for the lowest cost. You can find our exact living expenses here.
This works because small increments add up to a mountain of cash that most people never bother to think about.
We learned that humans don’t need much to live a happy life. Another key point is stepping back and realising how good we already have it in Australia, compared to other parts of the world and historically. This enables us to live a great life without spending much, which creates large savings and fast wealth building.
Being quite a bit older than me, my partner was a long-time homeowner. After our first few purchases, we decided to join our finances and use equity in her house to buy more property.
We still had plenty of spare cashflow from our jobs, which we saved and combined with growing equity to increase our portfolio. By 2014-15, we’d maxed out our borrowing, but still had savings each month to invest.
That’s when I came across a slightly different form of investing in shares – investing for dividends. To me, this made a lot of sense!
After doing some more research, making a few investments and receiving a few dividend payments, I was hooked! Simply buy a parcel of shares in a good company or index fund, and it spits out increasing sums of money at you over time.
By 2016, we realised how simple and effective this was, and if our equity was put into dividend-paying shares, we could retire soon.
Strong dividend yields and franking credits mean you earn a vastly higher income compared to rent from property, especially after expenses and maintenance.
We continued buying dividend-paying shares, and in late 2016, we decided to begin slowly selling our properties, with the proceeds going into shares.
Then, in early 2017, we left work, around my 28th birthday. And we finally got our lives back!
At a rough guess, we made around $800k from saving and investment gains over 9 years, and the rest was the existing equity my partner had.
Fortunately we ended up with more than the earlier example, and more than we needed, when including the equity my partner had. So I worked hard, but I got lucky too!
Our properties performed okay on average, even including leverage. But the real magic ingredient was saving. Try the 10 year calculation for yourself (using any compound interest calculator), and you’ll see how the vast majority of the result comes from saving.
As we continue transitioning into shares, we use some of the money to live on, while the dividend stream keeps building.
I’m completely sold on long-term dividend focused investing. My favourite types of investments are low-cost diversified funds that I can hold forever and simply collect income from.
These days, we continue to live our simple and happy life. And lately we’ve even started doing some part-time work… because we want to, not because we have to, which is a great feeling.
If you’d like to start your own journey to Financial Independence, simply head to the Start Here page.
And to get all my latest content as soon as it comes out, enter your email below, and we’ll talk soon 🙂